Cultybraggan Prisoner of War Camp sits just outside the village of Comrie in Perthshire. Built in 1941, when things were looking bleak for Britain and her allies, as things were not going well in the war with Hitler’s Germany. France had fallen, seemingly unstoppable German panzers were tearing across Russia; Rommel’s troops in Africa were on the offensive for much of the year and America was neutral until attacked by Japan in December 1941.
As the tide began to change more and more German prisoners were being captured at the front, and Cultybraggan became one of two maximum-security prisoner of war camps, housing amongst its inmates die-hard Nazi’s classified as “black” prisoners as they had to wear black cloth patches on their prison uniforms.
The camp consisted of four divided areas of accommodation for the prisoners. The prisoners slept in long Nissen huts heated by a stove. Which must have been hot in the summer and cold in the harsh Perthshire winters, the prisoners slept in bunk beds in crowded conditions but despite this many soldiers would have just been glad to be out of danger especially as the tide of war turned against the
Not all of the German prisoners held in the UK thought the war was lost. When the Germans launched a last-ditch offensive in the Western Front in the winter of 1944 a large contingent of Nazi Prisoners planned to break out of their camp in Wiltshire after overpowering the guards and march on London. This plot was discovered, the ringleaders, sent north to Cultybraggan. One of the prisoners sent north was Wolfgang Rosterg, he should not have been with the hardliners as he was a moderate and acted as an interpreter for the British. The Nazis’ thought that Rosterg had betrayed them and after being tried by a Kangaroo Court he was hanged by his fellow countrymen in the latrines of compound B.
Wolfgang Rosterg was the second German to die in tragic circumstances at Cultybraggan Camp, on the 29th of November 1944 Willie Thorn another who the Germans suspected of spying was found hanging in the latrines.
The kindness the prisoners received from the locals while imprisoned made a lasting impression on some, Heinrich Steinmeyer served in the 12th SS Panzer Division. Captured in Normandy in 1944 and sent to Cultybraggan when Steinmeyer died he bequeathed his house and life savings to the elderly of Comrie.
Cultybraggan ceased in its role as a Prisoner of war camp in 1947 the MOD made use of the facilities and turned Cultybraggan into a training centre. Amongst the thousands of young man and women trained at Cultybraggan included (as the Dundee Courier reported on the 19th of June 1951) Bobby Johnstone the Hibernian and Scottish International football player.
Another tragic death struck the camp in July 1950 when 19-year-old David Barclay of the Queens Royal Lancers died after being accidentally shot and killed while he and a friend were shooting. Another occurrence at the camp took place in May 1972 when two members of a Scottish terrorist organisation called the Tartan Army attempted to break into the encampment to steal. Also charged at their trial with breaking into various premises in Ayrshire and Renfrewshire and trying to rob ammunition, explosives, detonators and fuses so it would seem likely that the theft of military ordnance the intention at Cultybraggan. Also charged with causing an explosion on the BP pipeline at Bridge of Earn in 1973. Both men were found guilty of committing terrorist acts and received custodial sentences in 1976.
Today The Comrie Development Trust looks after the Cultybraggan Camp, and they let out some of the Nissen huts to local businesses while a museum is under development. Cultybraggan Camp run regular guided tours every Sunday from May to September from 11 am with the last being at 3.00 pm, and I have just started doing a Ghost Tour at the Camp every Wednesday night from 8.00 pm until 9.30.
Find out more about Gary’s Ghost Tours here!